In 2012, Rachel Thompson graduated with a degree from Liberty University Law School. Last month, the Salem-based immigration and adoption attorney returned to her alma mater as an Adjunct Professor to teach Adoption Law to second-and-third year law students.
Rachel’s class, which will be taught weekly on Wednesday nights, will focus on many aspects of an adoption case including an understanding of procedural rules and statutes that govern the process of domestic and interstate adoption, explain what an attorney’s ethical obligations are when representing a child or prospective adoptive parent and identifying the necessary parties to an adoption proceeding.
“I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I think I denied it during different seasons of life, but in the back of my mind, being a lawyer has always intrigued me for as long as I can remember,” Professor Thompson said. “Over my life, different experiences helped me determine that I was meant to be an immigration and adoption attorney.”
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thompson is the middle of three girls. She is two years older than her younger sister and three years younger than her older sister. Her Jamaican mother and South African father, both immigrants, are a nurse and pastor, respectively.
When she was in the tenth grade, Rachel got to witness the naturalization ceremony of her mother becoming a United States citizen.
“It was so moving, and interesting and I was completely captivated. That was probably the first time I felt the nudge to be an immigration attorney,” she said. “A similar moment came when I went to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip in the 11th grade. I fell in love with the people, their language and their culture. I determined after that trip that whatever I did as a career, I’d have to speak Spanish.”
The same year that Rachel applied to law school, she had a friend graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University. When she visited him, she fell in love with everything about the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus. During her first year of law school, Rachel met her future husband, Brad.
“My law school professors were absolutely amazing. They not only taught my husband and I the law, but also invested in us as students and professionals. They gave us internships, counseled us, prayed with us, attended Bible studies with us and befriended us,” said Professor Thompson. “I loved that about my experience in law school. I want to invest in students the way my professors invested in Brad and I.”
As a second-year law school student, one of Rachel’s professors introduced her to her current boss, Christine Lockhart Poarch.
“I interned with her during my last semester of law school, and that experience gave me a first-hand look at what practicing immigration law actually looks like,” she said. “My professors understood the importance of networking and investing in people and relationships. I want to do the same for my students.”